Close
  • CONNECT WITH US
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

The Radical Reformation

According to a recent Pew study, 53% of American Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the one who started the Reformation, and fewer than 30% of white Evangelicals were unable to identify Protestantism as the faith which embraces the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

On this program, the hosts will attempt to show that contemporary Christians, whether liberal or conservative, have more in common with the theology of the Anabaptist reformers than they do with the views of Luther and Calvin expressed in the great Reformation solas. Join us as we continue to think about the Reformation on this edition of White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“Much of the hoopla surrounding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year has been, well, let’s just say, blather.  At a joint service in Lund, Sweden, on October 31st, 2016, Pope Francis and the president of the World Lutheran Federation exchanged warm feelings. Reverend Martin Junge, general secretary of the mainline Lutheran body said in a press release from the joint service, ‘I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we’re working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn by conflict and violence.’  Clearly, the focus wasn’t on truth.

“Acknowledging Luther’s positive contributions, the Pope spoke of how important Christian unity is to bring healing and reconciliation to a world divided by violence.  But he added, ‘We have no intention of correcting what took place, but to tell that history differently.’ Perhaps the most evident example of missing the point is the statement by Swiss Pastor and President of an ecumenical church convention in Berlin last year, Christina Aus der Au.  She said, ‘Reformation means courageously seeking what is new and turning away from old familiar customs.’ That’s what the reformation was all about, why average lay people and archbishops gave their bodies to be burned and the western church was divided – a lot people just got really tired of the same old thing.

“The Wall Street Journal reports a Pew study showing that 53 percent of U.S. Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the one who started the Reformation.  Oddly, Jews, atheists and Mormons were more familiar with Luther than Protestants. In fact, fewer than three in ten white evangelicals correctly identify Protestantism as the faith that believes in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Three in ten. Many today who claim the Reformation as their heritage are more likely heirs of the radical Anabaptists.  It might sound crazy, but here is my thesis. The Reformation isn’t over because it hasn’t begun in America. Protestantism is definitely over and the radicals won.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Inner Light”

The “Inner Light,” also called “Inward Light,” is often thought to be a distinctive theme of the Society of Friends (Quakers). This Inner Light is understood to be a direct awareness of God that allows a person to know God’s will for him or her. This expression is often attributed to the teachings of George Fox in the 17th century, founder of the Society of Friends, who had failed to find spiritual truth in the English churches. He experienced an inner light and voice within, “that of God in every man.” The Inner Light should not simply be a mystical experience, but should also result in a person’s working for the good of others.

The practice of Inner Light is believed to be the direct path of ascension towards the divine nature within man. The theme of Inner Light appears in various spiritual traditions as well as in the main religions of the world. Buddhism believes that the one experiences the highest nature of the mind, reaches enlightenment and liberation from the Wheel of Samsara (i.e. bodily existence).

The Society of Friends was influenced by a pivotal figure, Jakob Böhme (1575-1624), a German mystic who was raised in Lutheranism. Böhme had considerable influence on Pietism and various mystical sects including Rosicrucianism and theosophy. Böhme sought a melding of various alchemical and Kabbalistic traditions that focused on the inner path to God, which finds parallels with the ancient heresy known as Gnosticism.  Böhme was also an important source for German Romantic philosophy, influencing F.W. Schelling. Böhme is also an important influence on the ideas of the English Romantic poet, artist, and mystic William Blake. The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was profoundly influenced by him as well. The tradition of the Inner Light reaches back into ancient mystical philosophies which have come to profoundly shape modern thinking. (Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. “Inner Light;” “Jakob Böhme”)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

On today’s episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols is joined by Michael Haykin to discuss John Calvin’s view of missions.

John Calvin’s view of missions

Stephen Nichols (SN): Today we are again visiting with someone who was with us just a little bit ago, Dr. Michael Haykin. Dr. Haykin, good to have you with us.

Michael Haykin (MH): Good to be here.

SN: Dr. Haykin is professor of church history and biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. And last time we talked about his book 8 Women of Faith, published by Crossway. We are going to be talking about another book he published with Crossway called To the Ends of the Earth. Now, Dr. Haykin, that book is about the history of missions and significant figures who contributed to our thinking on missions or were missionaries themselves. But there is something they all have in common: they are all from the Reformed tradition. And some people would say that is an oxymoronic thing to have Reformed theologians talking about missions. Would you care to respond to that?John Calvin's view of missions

MH: I think the book grew out of the fact that there has been significant upsurge in the embrace of Reformed truth in the last twenty-five, forty years, and along with that there has been pushback that this is not good for the church. It is not good for the church because it is supposedly well known that the Reformed tradition is not interested in missions. We don’t do missions well. To me, that’s a very, very narrow mind-set. Narrow because it fails to understand the fact that in church history, the missionary movement—going back through people like William Carey, some of the Puritans, back to the Reformers—has been strongly populated by people of the Reformed tradition. We begin with John Calvin, who stands in some regard as the fountainhead of the tradition. He wouldn’t be happy with the nomenclature Calvinistic because he would have seen himself as one of a number who were contributing to the recovery of biblical truth. But as you look at Calvin’s writings, you get this sense of a man who had a global vision. You see it especially in one area, very interestingly, in his prayers. When he would preach, the elders in Geneva had designated a number of individuals—particularly a man named Denis Raguenier, nobody remembers him today—to copy down everything Calvin said in the pulpit and . . .

SN: You’d have to write very fast.

MH: You’d have to write fast and remember, he’s doing this with a quill pen, putting it in a pot of ink. And at a certain point Calvin would say, “Now, let us turn to the Lord,” and at that point, his sermon was finished and he was about to pray. And we are deeply thankful that Raguenier did not put his pen down. He recorded the prayers of Calvin, and as you read them, you can hear a man praying for what he had just preached, that it would impact the congregation, but it would also have an impact on Europe and the world. You can hear Calvin praying for the gospel to go forth around the world. Now, one of the reasons that the Reformers are accused of not being missionary is because they didn’t undertake missions in their day. In one sense that is true, if you are talking about crosscultural missions outside of Europe; there are very few instances of that. Part of that’s because they didn’t have the resources—Geneva is landlocked, unlike, say, the great powers of Spain and Portugal that had vast navies. But also it’s because Calvin, as he looked at Europe, did not see a Christian continent. What he saw was Christendom, with the Christian faith a mile wide and an inch deep, and he realized that he had to plant churches in Europe before he would ever think about global.

SN: The mission field for Calvin was Europe.

MH: Exactly. And so he trained upward of twelve hundred, maybe as many as fifteen hundred, pastors to go, particularly to France, to plant churches.

SN: You know, Calvin lived in Geneva but his heart was always for his native France.

MH: Exactly.

SN: And you see that in his heartbeat. Well, the story ends with Calvin and continues there. Grateful for that book, To the Ends of the Earth, and thank you for being with us.

MH: Thank you.

Stay connected with 5 Minutes in Church History by getting the weekly podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, or via RSS. You can also subscribe to the blog via RSS and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 (This podcast is by Ligonier Ministries. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

On today’s episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols sits down with Dr. Michael Haykin to discuss 8 women you should know.

Dr. Michael Haykin discusses Eight Women of Faith

Stephen Nichols (SN): Today we have a good friend of mine who is a fellow church historian. We have on our program Dr. Michael Haykin. Dr. Haykin, welcome to our program.

Michael Haykin (MH): Good to be here.

SN: Dr. Haykin is professor of church history and biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. But you live in Toronto.

MH: Yes, I do. It’s a long commute.

SN: I want to talk to you about one of your more recent books. You are very prolific, so it is very hard to keep up with you, actually. But this is one of your recent books. It is titled 8 Women of Faith and it’s published by Crossway. So, among others, you write on Jane Grey and Margaret Baxter. Who is Margaret Baxter?

MH: She was the wife of the Puritan Richard Baxter.

SN: You also write on Anne Steele.

MH: Yes, Anne Steele was a Baptist hymn writer.

SN: You write on Esther Edwards Burr. She was the daughter of Jonathan Edwards. And of course, if you are writing on the daughter of Jonathan Edwards, you need to write on . . .

MH: Sarah, the wife of Jonathan Edwards.

SN: So, we have Sarah. We have Anne Dutton in this book. We have Anne Judson. She is the wife of Adoniram Judson. And then we also have a novelist.

MH: Yeah, Jane Austen.

SN: Jane Austen.

MH: She was a believer.

Dr. Michael Haykin discusses Eight Women of Faith

Paul Delaroche’s The Execution of Lady Jane Grey

SN: And there she is. So, of these women, let’s pick one in particular that we can talk a little bit about.

MH: Let’s talk about Jane Grey. She was a remarkable young woman, fifteen or sixteen when she was martyred. Born in a very tumultuous time, the time of the Reformation in England. She was born in 1537 and died in 1554. And you’ve got Henry VIII and all his wives and his break with the church of Rome, and in the midst of this, you have this young woman Jane Grey. Her parents sent her to Henry’s court in hopes that she will somehow get linked up with the future king, Edward VI, who would be a significant force for Reformation. John Calvin called Edward “the young Josiah.” Jane’s parents were hopeful that somehow marriage bells would soon ring, but that didn’t happen. But at Henry’s court, Jane was exposed to the gospel. It was probably Catherine Parr—Henry VIII’s last wife—who was instrumental in her awakening faith. By the early 1530s, she was definitely a believer and was corresponding with Reformers on the Continent. When Edward died in 1553, he was very aware that the line of succession would run to his eldest sister, Mary, who was a diehard Roman Catholic. He didn’t want that. His other sister, Elizabeth, though she would later go on to be a remarkable Protestant queen, was considered illegitimate and therefore unfit to reign. So, Edward latched onto the idea of having Jane succeed him. He changed the order of succession in his will, and Jane was declared queen at his death in 1553. She was queen for about nine days.

SN: And then Mary did come to the throne.

MH: Mary was not going to take this. She raised an army in eastern England and marched on London and took the capital. She imprisoned Jane, and in subsequent months, she became aware that she needed to remove Jane, partly for political reasons but also because of Jane’s faith. And a very significant dialogue took place a few days before Jane’s death, in which Mary sent her chaplain, John Feckenham, to convince Jane to renounce Protestantism—her evangelical convictions—and embrace Rome. And they debated the key issues of the Reformation. Here’s a young woman, fifteen years old . . .

SN: On trial for her life.

MH: Exactly.

SN: And she’s debating theology.

MH: You know, things like the nature of the Lord’s Supper, the authority of the Scriptures, the nature of the church, and how we are saved, and she emphasized how we are saved by faith alone. It’s just a tremendous little dialogue.

SN: Well, there you go—Jane Grey. And she’s joined by seven other women from the pages of church history that you need to get to know. Dr. Haykin, thanks for being with us and thank you for this book.

Stay connected with 5 Minutes in Church History by getting the weekly podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, or via RSS. You can also subscribe to the blog via RSS and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 (This podcast is by Ligonier Ministries. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Will we make it as a nation? That depends on where we put our trust. And lately, it’s been pointed in the wrong direction.

Like many of you, I watched the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. And like many of you, there was much I appreciated in the ceremonies and also things that concerned me.

But what really caught my attention were the remarks of New Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. After painting a very grim picture of the state of the nation, Schumer said this:

“Despite these challenges, I stand here today confident in this great country for one reason: you, the American people.”

Senator Schumer’s words echoed Barack Obama’s words at his final press conference as President, “At my core,” he said, “I think we’re going to be OK . . . . I believe in the American people.”

Now when Schumer made his remarks, I joked to the Colson Center board members watching with me, that “William Jennings Bryan just woke up from his grave and said, ‘Amen!’ and Winston Churchill just woke up from his grave screaming, ‘No!’”

Okay, it’s an obscure reference. Bryan was the classic populist politician of the early 20th century that led the prosecution at the famous Scopes trial. Bryan, known as the “Great Commoner,” was certain that the majority and popular opinion could be trusted at all times—whether in matters of politics, religion, or the teaching of science in the public schools. His overconfident faith in the American public, and in his own abilities as an orator, are at least partly responsible for the Scopes Trial being the embarrassing episode that it was.

REPUBLICS, DEMOCRACIES, AND GODChurchill, on the other hand, knew better. He knew the majority could be wrong, and that mob rule was a very real and constant threat. So did our founding fathers, which is why they gave us a republic, not a pure democracy—and placed limits on both the majority and on the government itself. It’s why, for example, we have the electoral college.

Chuck Colson tackled that issue back in 2000, shortly after the election of George Bush. You’ll remember how supporters of Al Gore called for the elimination of the electoral college, just as Clinton supporters are now.

Chuck offered a much-needed civics lesson.

“This country was never intended to be direct democracy,” he said, “nor was it intended that the president be elected by direct vote. And there was a very good reason for this, one greatly influenced by… biblical values.”

In a republican form of government, the people elect representatives to govern. Power between central authority and local authorities—as well as between branches of government—is to be balanced. In an ideal republic, elected officials rise above polls and public passions and act in the best interest of the nation.

Republics are also based on a constitution—a rule book, if you will—that protects the rights of individuals not only against a monarch, but from mob rule. It’s why, for example, the right to free speech can’t be voted away by a simple majority. To do that—heaven forbid—Congress and the states would have to amend the Constitution. 

“In this,” Chuck said, “the Founders were deeply influenced by the political understanding developed during the Protestant Reformation.”

Scottish cleric Samuel Rutherford wrote Lex Rex, or, the Law is King, which enshrined the rule of law over the monarch and over the people.

All of this necessarily safeguards against the depravity of man. Because all men and women, from princesses to paupers, individuals and groups are, as John Calvin taught, predisposed to sin. So he not only argued against the “divine rule of kings,” but also against direct democracy. Like the American founders two hundred-some years later, he “advocated a republican form of government with representatives chosen to lead for us—limited government, with powers balanced.” This, Calvin believed, “would best meet biblical objectives.”

And he’s right. Will we be okay as a nation? That’s my prayer. But it’s not because I trust the people.  After all, it’s right on the money: It’s in God we trust.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

In this episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols discusses the lesser known pastoral side of John Calvin.

John Calvin’s sermons on Ephesians are a wonderful text. In the introduction to the Banner of Truth Trust’s edition of these sermons, the editors note that as we think about Calvin’s writings, we have his sermons, his commentaries, and his Institutes of the Christian Religion, but:

“In these pages, we hear Calvin. Not as we do in his Institutes, which were so carefully written and reworked, nor as in his Commentaries, which he also revised, but we hear him just as he spoke from the pulpit of St. Peter’s.”

John Calvin treats doctrinal subjects regarding predestination

Image: John Knox Press

Calvin began his series on Ephesians on May 1, 1558. He preached forty-eight sermons, finishing in March 1559. When Calvin started preaching this series, he was forty-eight years old. He was beginning to enter into a period of his life where he would have significant health issues, including pain would rack his body until his death. It was also during this series that, at one point, Calvin was preaching so strenuously that he burst a blood vessel.

When Calvin preached, he used no notes, he had no manuscript, and he did not have any mechanisms set up to have those sermons recorded. About a decade before he started preaching this series, a group of French refugees in Geneva started recording Calvin’s sermons. There would be a number of them sitting there taking notes. At one point, they realized that they needed more than one note taker because at times they would get caught up in the warmth of the sermon. Thanks to those French refugees, we now have a taste of what it would have been like to hear Calvin preach.

Let’s look at a few lines from his sermon on Ephesians 1:3–4. Calvin says,

“For we know that our wisdom ought always to begin with humility and this humility imports that we must not come weighing God’s judgments in our own balance or take it upon ourselves to be judges and arbiters of them.”

Why is Calvin telling us that we have to be humble and that we have to recognize that we don’t weigh God’s judgments, we submit to them? It’s because he is going to talk about, in this sermon, the doctrine of predestination. And when he introduces the doctrine of predestination, Calvin says this:

“There are two more reasons,” on top of those he had already given, “as to why this doctrine must, of necessity be preached. The one is the magnifying of God as He deserves. A doctrine of salvation that starts and ends and has, everywhere in the middle, God is the only doctrine that is going to give the glory worthy to God. This doctrine of predestination is one of magnifying of God that He deserves. And the other is the assurance of our salvation. If salvation is by God and from God then we are kept by God.”

And so, Calvin in these sermons on Ephesians is treating doctrinal subjects, but he is treating them in such a way as to serve the people of God. And that’s Calvin on Ephesians just as he spoke from the pulpit.

Stay connected with 5 Minutes in Church History by getting the weekly podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, or via RSS. You can also subscribe to the blog via RSS and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 (This podcast is by Ligonier Ministries. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

John Calvin ends the Institutes of the Christian Religion with a discussion of civil government. In this episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols considers what Calvin wrote.

Let’s return to our good friend [John] Calvin and see what he had to say about civil government. The fact is, he had a lot to say. In fact, Calvin ends his magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, with a discussion of civil government. In book four, chapter twenty, the very last chapter of the Institutes, Calvin turns his attention to civil government.

He opens this chapter with these words:

“For although this topic seems by nature alien to the spiritual doctrine of faith, which I have undertaken to discuss, what follows will show that I am right in joining them, in fact, that necessity compels me to do so.”

Calvin is telling us that not only should a discussion of civil government be included in his discussion of theology but that it is necessary, it must be there, and so he turns his attention to it. He tells us right off the bat that we need to recognize the distinction between Christ’s spiritual kingdom, as he calls it, and the civil jurisdiction. But just because they are different, they are not at odds. They are both ordained by God, both the kingdom—the spiritual kingdom or the church—and also the magistrate.

Calvin on Civil Government

Image: Southern Methodist University

Calvin also tells us that Scripture has a lot to say about living as a citizen in civil jurisdictions. He says that sometimes we need to live submissive lives. For truly, Christians ought to be the kind of men who bear slanders and injuries, who are open to the malice, deceits, and mockeries of wicked men. They ought also to bear patiently all these evils. That is, they should have complete spiritual composure at having received one offense as they make ready for another.

Calvin goes on to speak about our sometimes living with a perpetual cross. He also tells us, and this is sort of a counterbalancing notion, that even though we need to endure those kinds of insults and hardships, we also need to be zealous for the public welfare. And so, he has much to say about how we speak up for public welfare, how we speak up for what we would say—our natural-law or common-grace principles, or even biblical principles, for that matter. He has a lot to say about obedience to the government, of course, and that’s how he ends this chapter. When he gets to the very end, he also turns his attention to the idea that obedience to man and government must never become disobedience to God. In fact, his very last words remind us, as Peter said in Acts 5:29,

“We must obey God rather than men.”

 And then Calvin adds this:

“Let us comfort ourselves with the thought that we are rendering that obedience, which the Lord requires, when we suffer anything rather than turn aside from piety.”

Calvin is reminding us that if we find ourselves in situations where laws or governments or those in control require us to do something that is clearly against God’s Word, we should not compromise, we should not cower, we should not cave. But instead, we should recognize that we are required to render obedience to God and that we ought to suffer first before ever turning away from our piety and from our commitment. Calvin asks that we would have the courage not to grow faint. And then he ends with these three words: “God be praised.” That’s Calvin on civil government.

Stay connected with 5 Minutes in Church History by getting the weekly podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, or via RSS. You can also subscribe to the blog via RSS and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 (This podcast is by Ligonier Ministries. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc